Papers of Carl Paul Barbier (d.c1993), Professor of French, University of Edinburgh, relating to the author Stphane Mallarm (1842-1898)

Scope and Content

  • Copies of correspondence between Stphane Mallarm and other literary figures
  • Copies of correspondence with the artists J M Whistler, Fantin-Latour and Legros (from various collections) and Montesquiou (from Bibliothque Nationale)
  • Notes by Barbier and his correspondence with Whistler; poems and other works by Mallarm
  • Photographs and documents relating to Mallarm family
  • Concert programme and notes, French Society, 3 February 1978

Administrative / Biographical History

Carl Paul Barbier was Professor of French at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1964, he published Correspondence Mallarm-Whistler in France as well as editing several books of his poetry and correspondence for publication. He died c1993 .

Stphane Mallarm was born in Paris, France, in 1842 . He taught English from 1864 in Tournon, Besanon, Avignon and Paris until his retirement in 1893. Mallarm wrote poetry from an early age and was influenced by Charles Baudelaire with his first poetry being published in magazines in the 1860s. His most well known poem is probably L'Aprs Midi D'un Faun (The Afternoon of a Faun) (1865) which inspired Claude Debussy's tone poem (1894) of the same name and was illustrated by Manet. Among his other works are Hrodiade (1896) and Toast Funbre (A Funeral Toast), which was written in memory of the author Thopile Gautier. Mallarm's later works include the experimental poem Un Coup de Ds (1914), published posthumously.

From the 1880s Mallarm was the centre of a group of French writers in Paris, including Andr Gide and Paul Valry, to whom he communicated his ideas on poetry and art. According to his theories, nothing lies beyond reality, but within this nothingness lies the essence of perfect forms and it is the task of the poet to reveal and crystallise these essences. Mallarm's poetry employs condensed figures and unorthodox syntax. Each poem is build around a central symbol, idea, or metaphor and consists on subordinate images that illustrate and help to develop the idea. Mallarm's vers libre and word music shaped the 1890s Decadent movement.

For the rest of his life Mallarm devoted himself to putting his literary theories into practice and writing his Grand Oeuvre (Great Work). Mallarm died in Paris on 9 September 1898 without completing this work.


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Gift : family of Carl Barbier : 1994 : ACCN 4596

Gift : family of Carl Barbier : 1996 : ACCN 4661

Gift : private individual : 1997 : ACCN 4697

Other Finding Aids

The material is as yet unlisted but will be added to the department's online catalogue available at  shortly.

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Archivist's Note

Compiled by David Powell, Hub project Archivist, 25 March 2002

No alterations made to date

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Head of Special Collections

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 247 procedures

Custodial History

Held by the family of Carl Barbier


None expected

Related Material

GB 275: Papers of Stphane Mallarm (Cambridge University: St John's College Library)

Location of Originals

Some material is copied from the Bibliothque Nationale, Paris


No known publications using this material